Saturday, December 20, 2014

Back to Work

I’ve played a lot of solitaire the past year and avoided working on writing projects.  I did start my fourth book, but found it hard to write when I didn’t believe book three would ever be published.  Book three and four are sequels to my first published work; They All Fall Down, (God’s Grace will heal a wounded heart; but will he stop a war?) released seven years ago.
On December 3, my publisher made an offer I couldn’t refuse.  Book three, Return to Nineveh, will be published and book four (yet to be titled) upon approval.  What more could I ask for?  2015 Will see the return of the friends from Helen’s Landing joined by new friends rescued from Java.  The struggle to win control of North Africa heats up as the United States joins the allied forces in the deserts and ancient towns to push the Axis Army into the sea before freeing Sicily from the German Boot of occupation.

Another bonus for me was a signing event for my first two published novels at the church I attend when we are in Alabama during the winter months (St. Paul’s Episcopal in Foley) the third Sunday of Advent.  I look forward to meeting more of the church members and talking about and selling both books.  They will make a nice gift for a special someone and give reading pleasure. 
The message of this blog entry is: never give up.  One never knows when the right opportunity will come into one’s life.  I feel blessed and excited to be given this opportunity and look forward to the work ahead.  My editor will push me to make the book the best it can be, even though it means going through the story in depth and cutting and adding in the right places to bring the story to life.  (I have to say editing is the hardest part for me; rereading—rewriting—and-rewriting!)  I found it difficult to read the book for about a year once it is released. 

I think picking the cover is the most fun part of having a book published.  The folks that create the choices have such great imaginations to put a stamp on the cover that gives a haunting inner look at the story and draws the reader to it.  This is very important to the author, because the cover must be interesting enough to make a person pick up the book and read the back-matter.  These two items are the strongest selling points for a book and, therefore; must be appealing to the public in general.
There is, of course, still the matter of selling, which my publisher, Tate Publishing, will help design a selling strategy and lend support to help me into venues that give optimum exposure.  I look forward to the newest strategies playing out not only for book three, but for all my novels in 2015 and beyond.   Hope is restored and the energy is rejuvenating, as this project moves forward.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


It has been some time since I posted about writing; in fact, it has been too long since I’ve written anything new.  I cannot blame it on anything except simply not wanting to sit down and put some effort into creating in the past few months.  I think I have the rejection blues to blame, which means I only have myself to blame for being lazy and not pushing forward.
Return to Nineveh, a sequel to my first novel—They All Fall Down—simply is not getting off the ground.  While the publisher of my first two novels is offering a contract, it means a financial outlay that I want to avoid.  On the other hand, the editing process with them helps polish the work into a viable product and the editors challenge the author to do their best work.  It also means a support system is in place from the time of editing to as many events as I would like to have to promote the book beyond the release date. 

I have to admit that I find the editing process the most difficult part of writing a novel.  I did pay to have an editor go though the manuscript and believe she did a most adequate job of correcting grammatical errors and helped to bring the story into line for the reader.  (I know what is going to happen and how; however, the person reading the story does not and should not have to struggle to keep up.)

In the meantime, I have started the next part of the series to They All Fall Down.  My publisher has brought new life to the novel, with helping to schedule events and working to publicize them by sending press releases in the area where they will take place.  I have an event in Kalamazoo on the South Kalamazoo Mall at the Cassa Café in less than three weeks (June 14, 11a.m.—1:00p.m.).  I’ve only done one other café event when my husband and I were in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas in early 2011.  I also had events in Foley, Alabama while there for the winter.

But back to writing, I do not know how many, if anyone, will read this post; but I am asking for your prayers and encouragement to make the right decisions about Return to Nineveh and to have the desire and energy to move forward to the next part of the series.  World War II was a long and arduous journey for all concerned and changed our world forever.  The history is fascinating, and the plethoras of stories that can be written around it are plentiful and filled with a sense of how people survived in a time of aversion toward other nations.  The numbers of movies made, The Monuments Men is a good example, about the time are numerous and still being produced today.

So, now it is time to put pen to paper, as the saying goes, and stop procrastinating to get the next novel into the computer for consideration.  I hope the characters understand and will be forthcoming as the story unfolds.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Everything Has A Story

Below is part of a presentation prepared that never saw an audience last Saturday.  Timing is everything when it comes to a signing event, and holiday weekends usually don't work out for the author.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy a little talk about They All Fall Down.


Everything Has A Story

Several times over the past few years I have been asked where an idea comes from to create a story.  I think the best answer I can give is: it comes from experiences in life and the things in history that are fascinating to discover.  My generation grew up in a time of turmoil that has led to our present day way of life.  We had the Equal Rights bill signed by President Johnson in 1964, the Vietnam War and the Beatles invaded, changing our concept of rock-n-roll.  
Everything has a story waiting to be told.  What if this happened and my characters were there, how would they react?  How would the story unfold as history progressed?
Throughout history natural disaster and war have affected the lives of mankind.  In ancient time Mount Thera caused a catastrophic natural disaster of such proportions that the world has not experienced since.  Even Mount St. Helen’s or the volcanoes in Hawaii are not on a scale with the ancient eruption that rocked civilizations across what is now southern Europe and caused killer tsunamis to wash away cultures in the Mediterranean.   The Minoan civilization on the Island of Crete is one example of a culture destroyed when disaster strikes and Brimstone and Water combine to cause a catastrophic outcome.

War on the other hand is the outcome of diplomacy gone wrong, aggression to expand territory, to right what is believed to be an injustice, the belief borders need to be secured, a dispute about religion or a combination of these reasons.  Ever since man inhabited the earth feuds were fought over hunting rights, beliefs and territorial boundaries. Even the animal kingdom marks their territory and will fight to defend it; or battle to obtain it. 
 They All Fall Down is a story that evolved from another time of turmoil that also left its impact on our lives.  The story moves between history and fiction, mingling romance and suspense, as it tells a tale about a band of friends residing at Helen’s Landing, Malaya and the destroyer Mariah when World War II explodes in Europe and Japan joins the Axis Alliance.
Unlike a natural disaster, war is a man-made historical event that can—and will—change lives.  It brings devastation to civilization as we know it, sees new and improved weapons of destruction, and usually sees a country’s boundaries either changed or absorbed into another country.  (The Berlin Wall and the division of Germany—east and west, the occupation of Slavic nations, as well as what became known as the Cold War, are examples of the changes war can bring.)   Sometimes a country is left with a treaty that is distasteful to its citizenry, causing discord that festers until it erupts into a new conflict.  The world saw this at the end of The Great War (we know it as WWI) when the Treaty of Versailles was thrust upon Germany in June 1919, seven months after the official end of the war. 
Another, less known treaty was signed with our ally from The Great War, Japan.  It was believed that since Japan was a smaller nation with few holdings in the East, it was not necessary to have a large military presence.  The agreement also called for Japan to have a Most Favored Nation status with the United States, allowing Japanese commercial trade to have an equal status with other countries.  By 1940 the United States refused to renew the Most Favored Nation agreement because of Japan’s aggression toward China, beginning with the occupation of Manchuria, rich in minerals, in 1931.  The situation did not bring military response from the United States, but only the refusal to recognize Japan’s control over Manchuria.  Looking at the Ukraine today, are we beginning another such situation with the Russian occupation of the Crimean Peninsula?  But that is another story to be told at another time.
As Japan expands its aggression in China, Germany is ignoring the Versailles treaty and begins to re-arm, as Hitler gains power and Italy invades Ethiopia in 1935, which again did not bring military response and is ignored by what will eventually become the core of the Allied nations (the United States, Britain and France).  Throughout the 1930’s, diplomacy is in a downward spiral and the United States Congress passes five different Neutrality Acts, forbidding America’s involvement in foreign conflicts.  Meanwhile, the lust for raw materials, minerals, and territory is pulsing on the other side of both our coasts until the inevitable happens.

They All Fall Down begins at this point in history in Helen’s Landing, a fictitious town on the Malayan Peninsula.   The story weaves its way through the diplomatic entreaties on both sides of the Pacific and Atlantic through radio broadcasts on the 9:00 o’clock nightly news. The idyllic simple life is blemished in 1940 and ‘41 with stories of war far away in Europe and battles at sea.  British citizens in Malaya voice concern about relatives in the line of fire, but everyday life fills the immediate future where the idea of disaster is unthinkable.  A few are concerned about the local risk, but British preparations in the East will surely make it impossible for Japan, the third member of the Axis alliance, to strike. 
No one knows what tomorrow will bring and life continues as normal in the small community, with its desirable deep water anchorage, a rare modern hospital, its ambiguous ties to the British Navy, and His Majesty’s Ship the destroyer Mariah.  As diplomacy between the Western Allies and Japan unravel, Mariah’s crew and the friends at Helen’s Landing pray that war will not come to this peaceful part of the world.  But this time the answer is no, and in December 1941 the evil spirit of war is unleashed.  All too soon Mariah’s crew prepares for battle, while the citizens at Helen’s Landing contemplate the Japanese Army coming toward them at an alarming pace.  The small band of friends wonder if this new war will lead to nations in the East watching in alarm, as They All Fall Down?
Everything has a story, it just needs to be told!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Freelancing – Where to Begin

I’ve thought for some time about ways to make a few dollars beyond a novel coming out every few years.  The internet is awash with blogs, magazines, newspapers; to mention a few of the growing number of ways writers are displaying their work.  Each time I Google, “freelance writing” a plethora of subjects litter the computer screen, with little information about how to actually submit an item for consideration to an internet business, without first paying for the information.
Where are the editors that read articles and published them based on their merits?  Whatever happened to personal contact?  While the way we communicate has changed with social networking and e-magazines, to e-books and watching the news on the internet, it is still important to maintain open communication regarding subjects of interest. 

Do you ever notice in restaurants patrons are spending more time on their I-phone than talking with their dinner companion?  At the checkout lanes in stores, customers are so busy texting or talking on their cell phones they can hardly get the items in their cart onto the check-out counter, ignoring the cashier and fumbling to find their credit card or cash to complete the transaction.  I find information searches to be a similar experience of ignoring the question and clogging the screen with pop-ups and unrelated item lists that skirt the subject with no clear answers.  Just as the above examples are a lack of good manners and frustration to many, the clogged screen is a similar experience.
This is another marketing problem to overcome for writers trying to move into a new genre of communication.  The articles must be well written, edited and on a subject that interests the reading public.  It is recommended that beginners start with small articles (500-750) words.  And, most magazines, newspapers, etc. are reluctant to accept an article from a beginner, so: where to start.  I suggest narrowing the search to a specific subject and matching it to the magazine, blog, newsletter, or other venue that accepts freelance submissions. 

I have Googled e-magazines as well as traditional magazines to find subjects of interest; however, it is often difficult to pin-point because of the time lapse between submission and publication.  Until one is familiar with the correct sites to research, the world of freelance writing for profit remains a mystery to be unraveled.  I say, don’t give up—the answers are there waiting to be found, used and shared.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Peek at "Return to Nineveh"


      The fledgling rays of the early morning sun shimmered across the still waters, turning faded pewter into brilliant translucent shades of opal, silver and bronze.  The strengthening shafts of light stretched across the harbor to a battle scarred ship that was waiting in silence for the sun to warm her decks and playfully dance along shimmering brass fittings.  She came to this anchorage to heal the wounds suffered during a desperate encounter with the elusive Japanese destroyer, which was sent by a merciless conqueror to destroy the last British citizens who fled Singapore.  She waits now, in silence, to feel the pulse of oil pumping life into her array of pipes and tubing, as her engines—her heart—come to life and beat in a steady rhythm.  Soon her human masters will breathe new life into her and she will experience the pleasurable taste of salty spray streaming across her sleek newly painted hull. 

      Her name is Mariah.
Chapter 1
      Katrin Lee Albright stood alone on the tree-covered hill that overlooked Surabaya Harbor.  She and her father, Joseph Albright, an Anglican missionary priest sent from England before the 1929 world financial crisis, went into hiding when the Japanese began their lightning-quick offensive through the small island state.  Two nights ago, they witnessed the brutal flashes from dueling ships across the horizon in the distant Java Sea.  The few returning ships gave witness to the lopsided battle of failure and defeat. 

      Her twenty-two-years on Earth had not prepared her for the increasing fear she experienced, as the Japanese Army relentlessly pushed closer to her childhood home.  Brushing long, golden-brown hair away from her face, she anxiously watched the remaining Allied ships while sailors scurried about, preparing them to sail.   

      Katrin hoped her father would return before darkness fell, and relieve her anxiety.  She knew he believed God would protect them, and he prayed with her to place them in His hands.  He told her to believe it was already so and it would be—just as Jesus had promised so many centuries ago.  She had to trust the lessons of the Bible that her father taught since early childhood, but fear of being discovered made her tremble.

      Katrin felt a shaft of fright penetrate her soul, when a sudden rustling in the undergrowth caught her attention.  The sound was coming closer, and Katrin held her breath when she could see movement coming toward her hiding place.  She waited after hearing the low whistle her dad used to announce his return from searching for lost or wounded Allied soldiers near the Japanese lines.  A sigh of relief came when she saw his face emerge from among the trees and recognized the uniform of the tall man following him as American. 

      “Kitten, are you here?” Katrin heard her dad call before she ran to meet him.

      “Dad, thank goodness!  All the ships look like they’re getting ready to leave.  I was afraid the Japanese Army was near Surabaya.”

      “They will be soon, Kat.  Captain Logan said the Allies are being overrun; Captain, my daughter, Katrin.”

      “It’s going to take years to push them back to Japan,” said the lanky dark eyed lieutenant, and second in charge, from among the small group of soldiers.  “It’s like an exploding ant farm, the way they’re infesting the East.”

      “You’re right there, Russ.”  Turning to Joseph Albright, Logan said, “Father, we should move on before long, in case a patrol sees signs of our presence in the area.”

      “We have two choices, Captain.  We can go to our base camp—a day’s hike from here, but well hidden; or, the abandoned farm we’ve used for two nights.  I don’t think any of the invading forces have gotten close yet, but I can’t be sure.  I’m afraid a dash to the harbor is too risky with Japanese snipers between us and the town.”

      Logan ran a hand over his sweat-covered face before answering. “I guess we better go for the closest and move on at daybreak.  I’ll have Sergeant Ledowski take point.  He’s the best scout around.  The two British rangers that are with us are pretty bad off, and Private Adams needs a Doc soon.”

      “Katrin, please let Sergeant Ledowski know where our campsite is located,” Father Albright said before turning to help the injured soldiers.

      Five minutes later, the ragged group of soldiers moved out, with their unlikely rescuers along the tree-lined ridge.  Sergeant Ledowski would move out of sight at times, and then double back to let Captain Logan know that no one was around to trouble them.  Katrin thought it looked like a boy playing hide-and-seek.  But this is real. She shivered at the unpleasant thought.

      The group stopped several times to help the four wounded soldiers and the two British rangers suffering from malaria, before reaching the abandoned pig farm.  At least the dilapidated buildings still had a usable house and fresh water.  Father Albright had found a small unopened can of axel grease, which he used to grease the hand-pump in the tumble down shed so it wouldn’t squeak, when he and Katrin had first arrived.  “God will protect us,” he had said, “but sometimes He asks us to help ourselves as well.  He is somewhat busy with more urgent matters than us, at the moment.”

      Katrin listened that evening while Captain Logan and her father discussed their next move.  Will we ever be really safe again? she thought. 

      “Captain, I think we need to get these men in better shape before we try to move any father.  We can see the surrounding country-side and would have ample notice if the Japanese were to come this far.  They’ll most likely be interested in securing the towns and villages before they go exploring these remote areas,’ Father Albright said.

      “I’ll have Sergeant Ledowski post some guards, Father, and we’ll see how things look tomorrow.  I’m anxious to see if your short-wave will reach any of our forces to evacuate you, your daughter, and our wounded from Java.”

      “I understand.  We’ll see what God brings us in the morning.”

      “Lieutenant Crammer, have guards posted, and tell them to keep alert,” Captain Logan ordered the dark eyed young man he had come to rely upon.

      “Yes sir.”

      The few able-bodied men rotated the night duty, carefully listening for any unusual sounds beyond the wind rustling the trees.  Captain Logan stepped onto the sheltered porch, as a hint of light touched the sky the next morning, to confer with his trusted sergeant about the approaching day.  “Sergeant, all quiet?”

      “Yes sir.  The birds ain’t even makin’ much noise.”

      “Good.  Be ready to move out within the hour,” Logan ordered.  “I’m not sure the good Father realizes how dangerous things are.”

      “Yes sir; we’ll be ready to move.”

       “Carry on,” Logan stated, returning Ledowski’s salute.

      Before the small hand of the clock reached the approaching hour, the ragged group of survivors vacated the worn buildings and moved into the jungle, after meticulously erasing any sign of their presence.  Sergeant Ledowski covered the rear, while Father Albright pointed the way to their last chance for sanctuary.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

When Diplomacy Fails

Throughout history war is the outcome of diplomacy gone wrong.  Ever since man inhabited the earth feuds were fought over hunting rights and territorial boundaries. Even the animal kingdom marks their territory and will fight to defend it; or battle to obtain it.  
In the case of WWII several factors entered into diplomatic talks about territory that were thought at the time to be reasonable by Western Europe and the United States; especially concerning territory in the East.  Restraints on territorial boundaries and naval expansion for Japan were wearing thin by the 1930’s.  At the end of The Great War Japan was considered a smaller nation and therefore required less naval forces and national boundaries were restricted by the treaty signed between the allies while British, Dutch and American settlements in the East continued to retain oil and ore rich claims.  Japan was an ally to the West, but now her loyalties were beginning to change as the restraints on a growing nation irritated a changing governmental environment. 

The Great War in the early part of the 20th century was the result of several diplomatic conflicts over territory between what was then the Great Powers (Italy, France, Germany, Great Britain, the Austria-Hungarian Empire and Russia).  Nations were embroiled in alliances between the Allies and Central Powers within weeks of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, which is considered the trigger that started the war.  This one incident brought to a head the historic squabble over territorial boundaries at the diplomatic table and men took up arms. The end of what is now known as WWI is where the story of WWII and diplomacy come together. 

At the end of The Great War the Treaty of Versailles was signed in Paris in June 1919, seven months after the official end of the war that besides making substantial territorial concessions called for Germany to disarm and make reparations which in today’s dollars would be about $442 billion.  Woodrow Wilson as President of the United States was instrumental in drafting the Treaty of Versailles with his 14-point plan and believed an alliance of nations was necessary to bring national concerns before the great powers of the world to avoid international crises.  The League of Nations was formed in Europe, but the United States did not join the alliance.  President Wilson was soon out of office following the end of the war in November 1918 and Congress did not feel America should become a member of this European league that could lead to the United States being embroiled in another conflict in Europe. 

It is this treaty; the insensitivity of the League's member nations to fairly adjudicate legitimate minority complaints about discrimination toward German natives within Slavic states along with the world depression of the 1930’s, that eventually allowed Hitler’s party to attain power in Germany.  The 1929 crash of the New York Stock Exchange caused millionaires to become paupers and businesses to fail on an unprecedented scale, putting the common man out of work.  As time passed Europe felt the severe impact as well, but none so much as Germany which still was expected to pay restitution for The Great War.  Hitler built on this hardship that trickled down to the average citizen’s ability to lead a productive life.  Hitler gained loyalty and power by pointing a finger at the repressors of Germany until he emerged its unchallenged Furor.
All of these factors came together in 1939 with German troops entering Prague, Czechoslovakia, ignoring the Munich Pact signed in 1938 negotiated between Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy.  The pact called for the secession of Sudetenland to Germany currently occupied by Czechoslovakia between October 1 and 7, 1938 in four specified districts. Afterwards, additional territories consisting of mostly German population were to be specified by an international commission, composed of delegates from France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, and Czechoslovakia. Several international incidents followed this act of aggression against Czechoslovakia, culminating with the invasion of Poland by Germany on September 1, 1939.  Britain, France, Australia and New Zealand declared war on Germany immediately following the aggressive act against international treaty and WWII began. 

As the war entered its second year Japan’s political atmosphere brought to power those who wanted the restraints the treaty signed at the end of The Great War between Japan and the West to end.  By 1941 Japan became the third nation to join with Germany and Italy when the Tripartite Pact was negotiated.  Though this was not yet the nation’s entrance into the war, it was a step toward conflict.  Negotiations with the West continued to unravel until November 1941 brought an end to the diplomatic talks.  By November 25, 1941 the die was set when ships sailed from Japanese ports after the Diet (Japan’s legislators) supported the “East Asian Cooperative Sphere” in support of Premier General Tojo’s government.

The fact that Japanese carrier task forces carried out two consecutive attacks on both sides of the Pacific and the Japanese Army crossed the Thai border into the Malay States in the same timeframe is a logistical feat.  The bombing of Singapore and Pearl Harbor brought destruction to two major naval ports in the Pacific giving the Japanese an opening blow that left the western allies reeling for several months.  Japan’s Tripartite Partners must have raised an eyebrow at the nearly fatal opening attack the West endured.

The struggle by Indian, Australian and British forces to stem the overwhelming flow of Japanese invaders into the Malayan Peninsula using the latest tools of war ended after a mere 70 days.  Air superiority, mechanized troops and the sheer numbers of Japanese troops overwhelmed defenders using outdated equipment and outdated strategies.  History notes that most Indian troops had never seen a tank prior to the invasion leaving the men unprepared to face the fire breathing dragon overrunning their defensive lines. 

The end of WWII saw the inception of the NATO Alliance to prevent war and bring aid to struggling nations.  In time we witnessed the fall of Communist Russia and the reunification of Germany.  Today the Middle East is in turmoil as one country after another erupts in conflicts with one faction trying to annihilate the other, and the world is responding.

Throughout time the instruments of war have become more destructive and more precise.  As we learn about the human factor and noncombatant casualties there is a cry for more humane ways to settle our differences, but still man makes war.  As the media covers war-torn fronts across the world today we watch in our living rooms while smart bombs zero in on targets and drones are flown from thousands of miles away.  The question is: will we see the end of war before the end of time?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Keeping the Momentum Going

In the last few months I have found it difficult to keep my enthusiasm at a peak.   As a result it is difficult to maintain the momentum to advertise, write or seek out new venues to sell.  My latest novel is not in production at this time as I feel it is time to find a publisher that doesn’t require up front $’s for marketing with two published novels on the shelves.  Three or four thousand dollars is not a lot of money in today’s world; however, it is a lot of money for most authors. 
That same money can be spent on a publicist that will do a lot of the marketing tasks to put the author’s name before the public, but again is the money available to work with.  The world of writing can become a money pit with often disappointing results.  Do I sound cynical, perhaps a bit when sales are down; the economy is on the verge of collapse and the last thing the public is concerned about with Congress holding the budget hostage is purchasing a relatively unknown author’s book. 
Self-publishing in recent years has overwhelmed the market place and many really good novels are going unnoticed. The market is flooded with a plethora of new releases on such an overwhelming scale the reading public is at a loss to discover that special book that is well written and fulfills the genre desired.  Trying to see the tree for the forest has many running in circles using the same routine to market their wares with little success. 
Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads page, WEB site, email blasts are basic forums to advertise our work.  Now it’s time to think outside the box as the saying goes in today’s corporate world.  Now is the time to apply that thinking to draw in the reading public to focus on my novels, my blog and the venues that will lead to these ends.  I started out by saying my momentum is slow of late and I need an injection of enthusiasm to work the public.  The only way to do that is to resolve to put in the time to research new horizons and travel the path less taken.
I have spent the money to hire an editor for “Return to Nineveh” and will soon have the manuscript back ready to review and update before sending queries to the few publishing firms taking unsolicited historical/romance manuscripts at this time.  The work must be polished and ready for publication with little needed to bring it up to the set standards of traditional publishing houses.  During this time it is imperative to look at venues to sell to further enhance my chances as an unknown with a publishing house that will risk capital on my manuscript becoming a book that will sell.

I can only say: please pray the search is successful for both these tasks.

Best of luck in your marketing – keep up the momentum.